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Cannes Film Festival
Short Film Corner 2021

Kashif Alvi
NAKULONG
UNITED STATES - 24 min

Tala is preparing to work the graveyard shift. She prepares dinner for her father, Melchor. Underlying tensions boil over and they get into a heated argument.

 

Hi Kashif, thanks for talking to The New Current, how have you been keeping during these strange Covid times?
 

I have been rather fortunate. When the pandemic started, and we went into lockdown in SoCal, I had just finished shooting a film. Over the last year I have been in post-production for that film, directing a feature documentary, and working as a Covid-19 Compliance Officer on film sets.


Has this time offered you any new creative opportunities?

 

I have been directing a feature length documentary for San Diego State University (SDSU) and PBS. The 51% is about SDSU’s Women Studies Department’s 50th-anniversary. SDSU Women’s Studies was the first women’s studies department in the country and the film examines the evolution of the department within the context of the feminist and women’s liberations movements.

Congratulations on having Nakulong part of this year's Short Film Corner, how does it feel to be able to present your short film at Cannes?

I’m happy and excited. The Short Film Corner at Cannes is a great place to meet filmmakers and watch films that one normally wouldn’t have the opportunity to view. It’s always great to get feedback on your work.

 

Will there be any nerves ahead of the festival?

 

I have presented at Cannes before, in 2013 The Education of Junaid Qadri. It was a relaxed atmosphere and I enjoyed meeting other filmmakers. Given that this year the majority will be attending the festival virtually, I am not nervous. I am looking forward to some of the workshops.

 

How did Nakulong come about, what inspired your screenplay?

 

I did not write the screenplay for Nakulong. It was written by someone else. While he was writing the screenplay, I requested that the characters be from radicalised communities – there is a paucity of roles for Asians specifically – and that the script could be shot as a oner.

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"The character has to be in a specific spot, turning a corner, going through doors, etc."

Have you always had a passion for filmmaking?

 

I am not sure passion is the word I would use. I always enjoyed watching films, but I didn’t think it was realistic as a career. I began my adult life in the STEMs and business school. I wasn’t serious about filmmaking until my late 20s. Filmmaking is laborious. I find it rewarding and I enjoy the chaos of the set.

 

Was your approach to Nakulong different than how you approached your previous films?

I spent more time rehearsing than I have in the past...I like working with actors, and they know the characters better than the writer and I do, so I don’t want to bring in that baggage with me. But the nature of shooting a oner on a smaller budget is that for certain moments you don’t have a choice. The character has to be in a specific spot, turning a corner, going through doors, etc. We had to block it beforehand and then I worked with the actress to refine the movements.

 

Now you can be reflective do you have any tips or advice you would offer a fellow filmmaker?

 

Create what you know and what you like. The industry is in constant flux so don’t be afraid to experiment with content and form.

And finally, what do you hope people will take away from Nakulong?

 

We tried our best not to direct the viewer how to feel. It’s observational. We want people to experience what life is like for the characters.